Sunday, August 20, 2017

• Memorial Service for Stan Smith

The morning of Saturday, August 19th, 2017 was picture perfect with unseasonably moderate temperatures for the middle of Summer in the IE. 

It also was the day that family and friends of Stan Smith, about 150 people, said their goodbyes to him.

Wildomar's Cornerstone Community Church hosted the viewing, service and reception. It began with a couple of songs accompanied by acoustic guitar.
One of several tables in the foyer that displayed remembrances of Stan.

There were three eulogies

First by longtime friend of Stan Smith, Rick Estes. Below are some highlights.
• He was my first boss. [...] In those days we didn't have so much formal education [In the real estate business], it had to be done by learning on the job. So he would correct my contracts, he would correct everybody's contracts in the office, he was the general manager. He'd take us out, and if necessary show us how to do the things that you do when you're selling land. 

He taught by example, so I learned how to locate corners and fill out a contract properly, and find flood plains [...] but more important than anything else he taught me, by example, the integrity that is necessary to sell. The honesty. When you told somebody something, it was your word, that was the end of it. The paper was important, but it was your word that was most important thing.

• Stan was a 'people oriented person'. He never talked about money or commissions, it was people that mattered. That was consistent through his entire life. 

• I think it's probably pretty obvious by the crowd you see here, the family that is involved. He was very proud of his sons and his grand kids. As they were growing he would talk about them, brag on them like dads/grandpas are supposed to. If you wanted to get Stan going, to get him talking, wanted to spend some time... ask him about how his grand kids are doing and out would come his telephone and you'd get a chance to see and hear what was [what]. 

• Stan was involved in the planning of [the city of] Wildomar, the community of Wildomar.  I can't tell you all the organizations he was involved in. Obviously he was involved in the Chamber of Commerce, the Board of Realtors, he was involved in the Southwest Area Plan, and it goes on and on. 

Some don't know that he was actually involved, back around '75, when we were lobbying for the off ramp at Baxter because Caltrans didn't have that in the plan. So it goes right back to the very beginning, the Baxter off ramp and how it goes down to the center of Wildomar, was part of his doing. 

• Stan got me involved in the WIN committee, he recruited me. I came to the first meeting at his request. One of the things about him in the WIN committee was such a source of detailed knowledge, he had an ability to remember details. If you needed to know almost anything, he was there. He knew all the boundaries of the old land grants. He knew the streets, he knew the subdivisions, and it went on and on and on. 

I don't think it would be possible for the city of Wildomar to be incorporated without Stan's help. 

• The picture you see up here, the picture you saw on the flyer, is the same Stan, the same smile that he had 42 years ago when I met him.
A memorial resolution from the Riverside County Board of Supervisors.

Mayor Pro-Tem Ben Benoit spoke for about five minutes about Stan. Selected highlights below.
• For those of you that don't know me, I'm Ben Benoit Mayor Pro-Tem for the city of Wildomar. I wouldn't be in that position today if it wasn't for Stan. 

When I met Stan I had just been talked into running for city council by Scott Farnam, and Scott told me "There's someone you've got to meet right away." It only took me a few minutes to realize that everything I needed to know I could learn from Stan.

• Just like Rick [Estes] said, there wasn't a map at city hall, there's not a map in this community, and there's not a map in the communities around us that Stan didn't know what was there, why it was there, how it got there. And I'm not [just] talking about the current place, but [what] was there before it, and before that.

• As I look around this room of the great friends of Stan, I'm envious. I'm envious that all of you have had decades with him, as I only had one decade with him. That decade was filled with so many smiles, so many helpful moments. 

• Matt Bassi, our planning director, (after he was first hired) came to me and said, "Ben, I just had lunch with Stan, the planning commissioner, and I now understand the layout, the plan, the organization, every detail of our city's general plan." 

So we can keep calling it "the general plan", which is the plan that our city goes by when we look at development in our city, but to me, it's "Stan's plan" and it's a wonderful plan. 

• When I got on city council in 2010 I asked for applications for planning commission, and I was so honored when he put his application in. I was so happy to make him my planning commissioner. 

• Thank you Stan. Thank you for all your hard work in the community, the communities around us, and thank you for giving us all the great plans to go forward with. 

• To Stan's family, there wasn't a time that I could be with him where I couldn't hear all the wonderful things about all of you. He loved all of you so much. 

Thank you for letting us have our time with him, and thank you for all the time you were able to support him [allowing] him to go out into the community, because we know that it takes a lot of good family time to do that. Thank you.
The flag draped coffin sat at the front of the stage
as Ben Benoit delivered some heartfelt words.
For the next 8 minutes there was a charming slide show that had photos of Stan from his earliest years, right through his last birthday party. I'll post the pics I took of his 78th birthday here.
Stan shakes hands with Michael Sheehan as he accepts the anchor clock birthday gift from the VFW. Looking on is Bridgette Moore (standing on the left) and Tim Walker (standing on the right).
Stan showing off his new clock.
Stan enjoys the moment with his granddaughters.

Kevin Smith regales the crowd with stories of his dad.

Marsha Swanson talking about how many years she'd known Stan.

Members of the WIN committee in attendance: Rick Estes, Bob Cashman, 
Stan Smith, Geri Stevenson, Tim Underdown and Bridgette Moore.

Joseph Morabito poses with the birthday boy.
(Can there be a higher privilege than having the guest of honor give you rabbit ears?)

Staff pastor Tyler Moore gave an uplifting talk that weaved together stories about Stan regarding his family, friends and involvement in the community and some scriptures too over the course of fifteen minutes. The entire address was well crafted, and it was difficult to choose which passages were to be shared. Below are just a few of the gems I paid special attention too.

• I listened to Kevin [Smith] as he told me about his father, as Kevin told me about Stan the man, the oldest of seven children, growing up, working before school and after school in the orange groves. Growing up with a mindset, a mentality that there's always something to be done. A work ethic that served him well, especially in the navy. 

• Kevin told me of a fierce love that Stan had for his wife. A love that would wait during his times serving our country. A love that would not only span those short years, but a love that would span the entire test of time —forty-six years, married to the love of his life.

• Kevin told me about the love his father had for his boys, a love that wouldn't spoil his two boys rotten but a deeper love. A love that would teach them discipline and the blessing of hard work. The love of a father that would not spare his children, but would cultivate that hard work in him and [his brother] Mark throughout their development.

• I want to encourage you today, whatever lesson, whatever value, whatever ethic, whatever principle, [however] Stan impacted your life; I want to encourage you today — don't let it end here, don't let it end now. Take it with you out those doors. Share it with others. Demonstrate it. Live it out. The lessons, the memories, the love from Stan, share it with your friends and your family as well. 
The service was concluded by the singing of Amazing Grace by the same duo that had sung at the opening of the service. 

Afterward his family escorted the coffin through the hall to the hearse that was taking him to his final resting place, the Riverside National Cemetery. 

Personal note

I don't know how it happened, but I became friends with Stan Smith sometime over last three plus years. I can come off as aloof, but his friendly nature blasted right through that facade. 

I first saw him in action in 2013 when I went to my first planning commission meeting. I remember wanting him to be more forceful with the gavel at times, but that wasn't his way. He was always more than willing to hear all sides of the issue, even the rude people that couldn't care less about decency and decorum.

I had the opportunity to have a one on one breakfast with him a couple of years back at OMG (Old Market Grill). It was one of those meetings that you hoped could continue well beyond the appointed time. Quite the story teller he was. 

He also entrusted me with some historic photos of Wildomar. He allowed me to scan them in before returning them. 
Wildomar Elementary: Class of 1928.
David A. Bown is standing, top row on the right.
I used to see him at the Wildomar Chamber monthly breakfasts. More than a couple times he would come over and sit at the same table I was at. 

I remember more than one bus trip to Harrah's that we both were on. The first one was a couple of years back. I just remember that he and Gary Brown were joking with my wife Grace the whole ride home... while I was taking a hops driven siesta.
An example of his sense of humor. 
He delivered the above with a perfect straight-man look on his face.
The 2017 Harrah's bus ride had us changing our usual eating plans. In the past we'd headed straight for the Mexican restaurant, but this time we went to the buffet. As it turned out, veterans could eat free that day, and that covered a friend too. 

With some quick calculating by Bridgette Moore, we paired up all the vets with non vets and we all ate for free. That night I was Stan's date, though we sat at different tables.☺

Grace and I would see him at park events, where he'd often be with his granddaughters. Even though they weren't little, they'd be there for the movies in the park.

I also had the opportunity to meet him over at the VFW, usually for their renowned steak nights. The last time was just a couple of months ago, and though my wife wasn't feeling well that night, she suggested I take Stan up on his invitation.

It was Stan, Cheri and Rod Zamora and me. Not the usual crowd, but a great evening just the same.

That occurred a couple of months before he was diagnosed with cancer. At that time, he was hoping to qualify for a knee replacement surgery. Life throws curve balls and who knew that would be the last steak night I'd be able to hang out with him.

The last time I saw him was at the Riverside Kaiser hospital about a week before he passed away. All things considered, he looked pretty good that day, and was up to his usual gregarious self. We didn't stay too long, but I'm glad I had a chance to give him a hug before saying goodbye.
Below is a brief video of Stan leading the planning commission meeting in the pledge of allegiance.
•          •          •

“Immortality is to live your life doing good things, and leaving your mark behind.” 

—Brandon Lee (1965-1993)

Wildomar Rap isn't concerned with immortality, or leaving a mark behind, but does enjoy doing good things when the opportunity arises. Goodbye dear friend Stan, you'll truly be missed and will continue to serve as a role model, even in your absence.

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